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Steam boiler heating problems.. need help!!

sorry, i just posted one under gas heating category, maybe i posted on the wrong category.

3 story house ( no basement)
Crown BSI138 Boiler
one pipe system ( total of 11 finned tube convectors) all slightly tilt to the steam pipe side.
2 main steam pipes (1 to the front feeds 4 convectors , 1 main to the rear feeds 4 convectors, return pipe feeds 3 convectors on 1st fl.)
only the main steam pipe to the rear has the air vent ( maid o mist #1, it used to be gorton #1) on it at the end of the pipe.
so the boiler was running every 10 mins and stop for 1 min because of Cyclegard LWCO, it was running like this for 2 hours without any pressure rises to let the pressuretrol shut down the boiler, and the 1-5 psi gauge didn't move at all, i have replaced a new pressuretrol with set 0.5 cut in and 1 additive differential. the convectors from the 2 main pipes slightly warm after 45 mins and get hot after an hour or 2, the 3 convectors from the return pipe were still nothing even after 2 hours of running.

some of the convectors i have installed angle air vents instead of straight ones, i don't know it will make any big differences or not.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    Hmm. Well, that boiler is rated at 354 square feet EDR. Have you figured out the EDR of those fin tubes? You need that number, because one of the reasons you may not be getting much heat is that it may be significantly undersized.

    Another, much more obvious, reason, however, is the near boiler piping. It leaves a lot to be desired, to put it mildly. Has it ever worked properly?

    And another reason is that not only is much of the near boiler piping copper -- which is a real no--no -- but it isn't insulated, which is another no-no. All of the mains and near boiler piping should be insulated and made of threaded black iron.

    The CycleGard is doing what CycleGards do. That's not short cycling.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,515
    Oh my gosh. We've seen so many boiler installs these past few weeks where the near boiler piping is just a mess, as is yours. I don't see a proper header, that copper is going to give way at the solder joints at some point in time. Copper is ok below the water line but not above it because of the amount of expansion/contraction. None the less, I see at least one main vent tilted at about 45 degrees. Aside from that not being nearly enough venting, that vent can't work properly unless it is setting vertically. It is likely stuck closed. You say you traded out some straight vents for angled ones. How did you install the angled ones? on an elbow? They can't work if they are laying horizontally either. When you say 3 convectors are tied to thee return piping do you mean the main turns and heads back to the boiler? That would still be the Main. The return piping would begin after the last convector supply line. There should be Main vents on both mains, somewhere after the last convector supply run and it has to be suffecient to evacuate the air and move the steam as quickly as possible. do you see any plugs that might indicate a vent was removed from the second main? To determine the number/size of main vents required, we need to know the length and diameter of each main. They we can advise you on that. It doesn't look like you have insulation on a good amount of those mains and it even looks like one may run through a garage. Those mains need to be insulated to keep the steam from condensing prematurely until it gets those pipes hot enough to sustain enough steam to get to the convectors. I don't believe this problem began after just changing out the Pressuretrol. Has it been a problem for a long time or has something else changed recently?
  • JackieW
    JackieW Member Posts: 7
    Hi Jamie
    thanks for your quick reply, i have read many of your replies from other threads. very helpful.
    the system was running ok last year, dont know what exactly happened in the boiler room but convectors heat up pretty good.
    when i turned on boiler 2 weeks ago, it became like this, so i replaced a new pressuretrol, new 0-5 gauge, new air vents, looks no improvement at all. i will try to insulated the near pipes tomorrow.
  • JackieW
    JackieW Member Posts: 7
    edited November 2014
    Hi Fred

    thanks for help
    The main pipe with no air vent to the front through the garage is 2.25"(or 2"??) and about 30ft long, the copper pipe connected to boiler is 2" ,not sure the main one to the rear, its inside the ceiling, it could be close to the front one too( the boiler was set in the middle of the house, but not sure how the rear main one piped)
    and yes, 3 convectors are tied to the return piping from main turns and heads back to the boiler.
    it was set up like this when i moved in, first year(last year), it was running ok, all convectors heat up pretty fast..the main pipe(to the rear) air vent gorton#1 was spitting, so i replaced with maid o mist # 1 earlier.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    vents won't work properly if they are not vertical.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,515
    Looks like 2 inch mains at 30 feet long, you need to vent .69 cubic feet of air out of each main. You need 2 gorton #1's on each of those mains. A Gorton #2 would work well but I don't think you have the headroom as they are fairly large. If you could take that Maid-o-mist that is at an angle out and add a 45 degree street elbow in that taping, then you could build yourself an antler with a couple short nipples, one Tee and one 90 degree elbow and put 2 gorton #1's on it or if you like the Maid-o-mist, you could just mount a second one of those on there. They vent at the same rate as the Gorton #1's. i'm not sure that's going to fix your problem though. If the system heated ok last year, and you made no other changes, something else is going on. What was the old Pressuretrol set at, Cut-in and Differential? It may be they had the pressure set much higher to try to compensate for some of the piping issues. Not good but maybe it was a "Band aid".
  • JackieW
    JackieW Member Posts: 7
    will replace these vents with straight one, is there any other thing that cause the problem ( it didn't work properly before i replace any of these air vents)
  • JackieW
    JackieW Member Posts: 7
    thanks Fred

    i will do, and as you mentioned, the old pressuretrol cut in was set a little higher place, not sure what exactly psi maybe 2 psi, and i turned it to 0.5psi after i read all these thread from here...additive differential was 1.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,515
    Lots of things can cause this problem but if nothing else has changed from last year, we probably ought to focus on those few things you did change, like the vents and the Pressuretrol.

    After that,Things like the lack of a header hurts, big time, the lack of sufficient venting on the mains slows the steam down and requires all the air in the mains and the convectors to be pushed out though those small convector vents. That takes a long time. If you have those angled vents laying flat, you just added additional restrictions on where air can escape. The lack of insulation, especially in the garage will cause the steam to condense before it can get to the convectors. That Cyclegard, shutting down every 10 minutes, especially when you have these other factors just adds to not being able to get enough steam moving to get to its destination.
  • JackieW
    JackieW Member Posts: 7
    OK Fred

    Thanks so much for you help
    will fix the things u mentioned step by step..will see

    thank you all for your replies. :D
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